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The Phenomenon of Man Paperback – January 13, 1976

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Editorial Reviews


"A most extraordinary book, of far-reaching significance for the understanding of man's place in the universe." -- Abraham J. Heschel

"Marks the most significant achievement in synthetic thinking since that of Aquinas." -- Bernard Towers, Blackfriars

About the Author

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin was born in Auvergne, France, in 1881.An ordained member of the Society of Jesus, Pierre Teilhard held positions as professor of geology at the Catholic Institute in Paris, director of the National Geologic Survey of China and director of the National Research Center of France.He lived in China for many years where he played a major role in the discovery of Pekin man. In 1951 he moved to New York where under the auspices of the Wenner-Gren Foundation he was enabled to continue his work until his death in 1955. Le Phénomène Humain, issued in France in December of that year, was immediately pronounced one of the outstanding publishing events of the century.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; (23rd) edition (January 13, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006090495X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060904951
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 160 people found the following review helpful By TMC on June 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Simply astounding. These are about the only words that I think best describe The Phenomenon of Man. Certainly, this has to be one of the most wildly interesting books that I have ever read. Most of us know and at least vaguely understand evolution, and also theists usually respond defensively that there is no conflict between God and evolution. But rare is the person who seeks to intergrate evolution into God's large-scale, dynamic plan refusing even just to argue for some "Design" in the universe. Teilhard argues that with the onset of animals capable of internal reflection, human beings, evolution takes a turn "inward". The consciousnesss is now what evolves, evolving toward an Omega Point with Teilhard sees as Christ. Certainly in our lives we can see the appeal of this view. Shouldn't our lives be a constant growth, an evolution toward complete oneness with God?
Teilhard is a genius and the best modern example of the intellectual firepower that can come from the Catholic Church and the Jesuits in particular. Although he and the Church didn't always get along (most of his stuff was censored in some way) I think this is due to the fact that Teilhard was so far ahead of his time that the hierarchy really didn't know what to do with him. Surely, 50 or even 20 years from now Teilhard de Chardin will be regarded as one of the most prolific Catholic minds in the last few centuries.
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78 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Bugs on May 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1945) was a Jesuit Priest, theologian, philosopher, and paleontologist who expanded on the concept of the noosphere originated by the Russian mineralogist and geochemist, Vladimir I. Vernadsky (1863-1945) who also originated the concept of the biosphere- the "life zone" where all biological life exists between the crust of the earth to the lower atmosphere or the "life envelope" surrounding our planet.

The "noosphere" or "thinking layer", according to Chardin, comes about at that point in time when humans evolve to the realization of a global human consciousness and is totally aware of itself and then headed for the ultimate destination- the "Omega Point" or "Kingdom of God". At this point, the earth is enveloped by a collective human consciousness.

Chardin uses both science and theology to support this theory and his dissertation on this is fascinating and thought provoking. Unlike most of his religious peers, he was a proponent of directional evolution and that Darwin had hit upon the proof of God's intent, that final destination of the human conscious evolution where the Creator is realized. Darwin, of course, preferred to distance himself from theological assumptions of species evolution, especially so with us humans and his religious wife.

Chardin distinguishes humans from all other life-forms because of our abilities to contemplate our existence, hence, the uniqueness of or the "phenomenon of man". Hopefully, he concludes, that the human family will evolve to be totally conscience, intelligent and loving, cooperative, and rising far above our current chaotic existence. Amen to that lofty, but desirable goal!
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88 of 102 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
The reviews here pretty much mirror the two camps out there regard PTdC - love him or hate him and little in between.
I think there is another way to approach the work. Is he a windy and obscure writer much of the time? Yes. Is he wrong about scientific details? Yes. Do either of those problems negate his genuine and largely orginal philosophical insights? In my opinion, no. Does one dismiss Aristotle because he's wrong about the way the human body works? Is Hegel worthless because he's windy and abstruse? Not at all (but it makes the reader's job much harder and casts some real suspicion on the work, I admit).
Did anyone really go into reading Teilhard thinking it was a scientific paper? Can his critics find some sympathy (in the midst of what seems to be their relentlessly peevish worldview) for someone forging radical ideas that meld philosophy, theology and science? The ideas, once distilled, are at least interesting, and the basic concepts are not at all invalidated (from my reading at least) by some scientific errors.
For some of you out there, please get over your unthinking hatred of any religious or spiritual writing. It's an enormous conceit and a huge intellectual blindspot.
And for Mr. Coffee-by-the-Fireplace, he's a Jesuit. It's not his job to speak up for Krishna. Sheesh.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
The reading of this book is an experience in itself. I approached the Phenomenon of Man with some skepticism, as most people will, since it conforms to neither Darwinian or Creationist dogma. Its putative teleology within a spiritual framework is a dissent from both views. What you notice, though, is the immense intellect behind this work. The process of formal argument anticipates and answers the counter arguments as soon as they are posed. You feel as if you are on tracks led to an inevitable conclusion. The book itself becomes analogous to the process de Chardin is proposing. It is finally the homogeneity of the spirit rather than the heterogenous complexification of the natural world which is the ultimate subject of this book. A merging of consciousness in the image of Christ is the conlusion, hardly conforming to Church doctrine of the sovereignty of the individual or free will, which led to the authors problems with the Roman Curia.
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